Saturday’s Hawaii Rainbow Warriors-Colorado State Rams game was first notable for some, uh, colorful color commentary, but there was a lot going on on the field as well. The two starting quarterbacks combined for 955 passing yards and eight passing touchdowns, plus 121 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. The game wound up with 17-point underdog Hawaii leading 23-7 at halftime and 37-7 in the third quarter, but Colorado State then went on a 27-3 run to make it close before the Rainbow Warriors held on for a 43-34 win. That marked their first win against the Rams since 1992 (Colorado State had won the last seven meetings between the schools, from 1995 through 2017) and their first win in Fort Collins since 1988. But it almost didn’t happen, and that was thanks largely to Rams’ QB K.J. Carta-Samuels.
Carta-Samuels was a pivotal part of that attempted comeback, and he had a stellar night overall, completing 34 of 50 passes (68 percent) for a school-record 537 yards with five touchdowns and one interception while rushing six times for 25 yards. The fifth-year quarterback (and brother of former Wyoming/Vanderbilt QB and current Missouri offensive analyst Austyn Carta-Samuels) joined Colorado State as a graduate transfer this spring after four seasons as a backup with Washington (where he threw just 47 total passes), choosing CSU over UCLA (where he’d previously said he was heading) after an injury to Rams’ sophomore Collin Hill presented him with the chance to challenge for the starting job. Back in March, he told Kevin Lytle of The Coloradan he couldn’t wait to compete:
“I feel in a way like I’ve retired or something and now I’m coming back,” Carta-Samuels said. “The opportunity is what I’m most grateful about and really what I care about at the end of the day. I’m so excited about playing, stepping out on the field next year under the lights and competing.”
Well, he sure got off to a good start here. And it took a pretty phenomenal effort from Hawaii QB Cole McDaniel (26 completions on 37 attempts, 70.3 percent, for 418 yards and three touchdowns, plus 13 carries for 96 yards and two touchdowns) to ensure that Carta-Samuels’ efforts didn’t actually lead to a Rams’ win. But Carta-Samuels definitely started his Colorado State tenure off on the right foot, and the school record is impressive considering the many remarkable passing totals the Rams have posted under head coach Mike Bobo. We’ll see if Carta-Samuels can build off this; if he can, CSU could be a fun team to watch this year.